Today, we're going to continue our look at enlightenment political theory by digging into the third enlightenment tradition, the social contract. Having now finished with both the Utilitarian tradition, which revolved around the idea of maximizing the greatest happiness of the greatest number, and the Marxist tradition, which was focused on the concept of exploitation and getting rid of it. The social contract tradition is focused on the idea of consent. Contract implies the idea of agreement or consent as the forming the basis for government. And of course, once we start talking about a, a contract or an a, to create a government, that implies some circumstance in which the government doesn't exist. That we, we start from some prior condition, a state of nature, or some pre-governmental state, and then government gets created. So, let's just think about that for a minute before we get started. If there were no government, no state at all, what do you think like would be like? >> Well, from my experience, I, I come from the world of the failed state. And this much I know, it's not pretty and it's gruesome violence and it's not good. >> So, it, it's a difficult condition to live in would you say? >> It is, I think even beyond that. It's just humiliating, I would say, for human being to live in a state without structure, without real authority, yeah. >> Yeah? >> Mm-hm. >> So it'd be a pretty bad condition? >> Yeah. >> What did you think? >> I think there are always going to be transitional periods of unrest and you know, uneasiness, but I think for the most part humans are generally good, good, you know, well, you know, they're good natured and I think it'll be all right. I think other institutions, such as religious orders or things like that will step into to fill the void after a while. >> So you don't think eh, a state of nature would necessarily be that bad. >> No, I have a rosy picture of the human condition, I think. >> Okay, well. >> He's American. [LAUGH]. >> What were you going to say? >> I say that he is American, he's American, so this is why he thinks that. [LAUGH]. >> Well that's, it's an interesting observation, because John Locke, who we're going to talk about some again today, thought that America during the 17th century, much of it was actually in a state of nature, but we'll get to that. The core idea of the social contract tradition is the notion of consent. What is it that people consent to? And we will have to dig into the meaning of consent, and particularly as it was originally understood in the 17th century theories, and then how we've come to think about it subsequently. The originator of what we think of as modern social contract theory is Thomas Hobbes, who wrote a book in 1651, called Leviathan, that we're going to spend some time talking about today. He lived from 1588 to 1679, very long life in those days. And he is often thought to have written the greatest of political theory ever written in ever written, certainly it was the first great work of political theory to be written in English. In the 17th century, people tended to write Latin, and, most of Hobbes' other writing was in Latin. But he wrote it in English, because he wanted it to have an effect in the actual politics of his day. England had been racked by a civil war. And he thought this was a catastrophic condition had been created as a result of that civil war, and so his, his view of what happens when you have the absence of government was closer to yours as we'll see in a minute. So when Hobbes talks about consent, the social contract, the agreement, he doesn't really think it's what people actually agree to, but what is rational for people to agree. What any rational person would agree to, is, is the core of his argument, so it's not what people in fact agree to, or what they in fact did. He thinks any person who thinks clearly, who reflects on what it's like to live without government must agree with him. That submitting to an absolute sovereign is better than living in the state of nature. There are two obstacles to people's realizing that, one is in the universities. Hobbes though was, he was a brilliant man and a great scholar by any estimation, had absolute contempt for the universities, which were filled with followers of Aristotle. He once spoke of the insignificant mutterings of the schoolmen, and by that he meant that the followers of Aristotle, who he that had been the most misguided theoretician of politics ever to have existed. And he saw his Leviathan and in important sense as a response to Aristotle's politics. But then the other reason was that he thought people were confused by merchants and others who had their own agendas that had bred the conflicts that had lead to the English Civil War. He wrote a history of the Civil War called Behemoth, in which he endlessly attacks, people who have deceived the common people about their interest. So, the, the combination of the Wooly headed academics in the universities filled with Aristotle's bad ideas, and the ideologies out there in the world of merchants and others deceiving the common people made it hard for them to see what's rational. But he thought and if you, you reflect back to the beginning of the course, he thought we could see with the force seeing a geometrical proof that in fact the account he was going to give is what any rational person must agree to. so, the agreement that Hobbes is talking about, and this one of the first things that people often misunderstand about the social contract. It's not an agreement between the people and the ruler. It's not a social contract as we commonly think of it in America, that there's some sense in which we have contracted with the government, and therefore the government owes us certain things. Locke, we'll see, comes closer to that view, but even he doesn't quite hold that view. Hobbes is unequivocal that the agreement is among the people to give up their authority, their power, their freedom to enforce, their wishes, the law of nature, whatever it is that they think they should be doing, to give that up to a third party, to their state, and the state will have absolute power. So the agreement is among the people, not between the people and the government. And when he gives his account of why people. Should be willing to do that. He says, think about the state of nature. Think about what it's really like to live without government. And here he's echoing what, what you said at the beginning of today's session. Hobbes' description of the state of nature, he says, in such a condition, there's no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth. There's no navigation, no use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious living, no instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts, no letters, no society. And which is worst of all continual, fear and danger of violent death. And the life of man, this is perhaps Hobbes' most famous quote of all time, the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. So this is what you're facing in the state of nature and this is what gives you every incentive if you're thinking clearly to recognize that it'd be better to give up that power to a third party. now, Hobbes lives through a civil war and it's often the case that people who have lived through a civil war take a different view, and no different and more malevolent view of the state of nature then those who have not. But it's certainly, how he, he portrays it. Now, the state of nature then is basically a state of war, and we escape it by giving our power to to giving up our own power to the, to an absolute sovereign. Right? it's, and we do it because it's so terrible to live in a state of nature that anything else is better, basically. Okay. But even for Hobbes, there are limits to what the government can do, and he in particular he articulates two. One is, people shouldn't be obliged to die for the sovereign. After all, if the, if the point of entering into this agreement with everybody else to give up your power to the, to the sovereign is to a, escape the war of all against all that's going to bring you, most likely, an early and nasty death. Then, if, if the sovereign orders you to go and die, it's, it's unlikely you're going to obey. So it's, it's not clear that Hobbes actually wants to say we have a more right to resist the sovereign. But he certainly wants to say to the sovereign you'd be very foolish to order people to go to their deaths, because pretty much they're not going to do it, right. But then secondly, and this was very important in the England of Hobbes' day. He said if the state can no longer can protect you, then the obligation to obey the government disappears. And this was a live controversy because what had happened after the civil war, Cromwell had prevailed and the, the king had fled to France. And actually, Hobbes had gone with him. And Hobbes had lived in exile. And, but there was then an issue in England of what were the, what, what should the Royalists do. And the anti-royalist government pressed the issue by insisting that they engage as a so-called engagement controversy. >> Mm-hm. >> They said you have to swear an oath of allegiance, that's engagement. Swear an oath of allegiance to the government. And these supporters of the king didn't know what to do because they were royalists after all. And Hobbes had a view about this, and this is a very elderly Hobbes now, a few years before his death. But he, he basically said, well look if the King for, give you protection you're no longer obliged to obey him. And so if the king has run off to France, you can, you can swear the oath of allegiance you can engage with the government. And of course if the king comes back and is able to take over again, well then you will re-transfer you allegiance back to the king. So he thought he was giving the royalists a kind of way out, by arguing this. In fact, many of the royalists didn't see it that way and they, their allegiance to the king was personal and so Hobbes was a little surprised, that this didn't make him more popular than it did. But, and eventually of course the king would come back. And we'll get to, more of that later but, the short of it is that Hobbes takes the view that you're obliged to, to the sovereign so long as he doesn't order you to die and he's able to offer you protection. Because that is the raison d'etre of the state.